NHS seems to think homeopathy isn’t too bad !

21 Feb


This is a really disappointing story that I came across via the excellent blog of David Colquhoun, Professor of Pharmacology at UCL.

For a number of years I’ve been encouraging my students to the National Health Service’s web site NHS Choices as a reliable source of about the range of health-related news stories that populate the British press on a daily basis. Sadly, if you look at the NHS Choices page on Homeopathy something very odd appears. Unlike the equivalent American website, NHS Choices fails to point out the there is no scientific evidence supporting homeopathy and it would be perfectly possible to read the page as an endorsement of homeopathy as a treatment for a range of ailments.

All of this is depressing enough, but it becomes worse when you look at what Professor David Colquhoun discovered, that the changes to the NHS Choices page seem to have been driven by an organisation supported by Prince Charles !! ~It seems like the NHS may have fallen pray to a rather odd combination of political correctness and the desire for ‘balance’ that undermines a lot of TV news science coverage.

What I find really intriguing is that what seems like a serious backward step in getting rationality to a wider audience might actual benefit my teaching. When I get around to teaching about homeopathy in the autumn it will be interesting to see the impact on the students when they realise that they understand something that the NHS appears not too. I suspect that this might actually reinforce the value of learning to think rationally. So every cloud may well have a silver lining.

UPDATE 22nd FEB 2013

In an even more bizarre turn of events I’ve just read a Daily Mail article that very nicely summarises what David Colquhoun has uncovered. We now seem to be in the very odd situation of the Daily Mail being a more reliable source of information than the National Health Service !

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